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HomeShare rents out luxury apartments cut up into 100-square-foot units [Updated: HomeShare responds]

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Startup offers affordable living in upscale locales, but not much elbow room for the dough

A low-angle photo of a glass high-rise.
340 Fremont, one of three SF buildings where HomeShare parks tenants.
Courtesy HomeShare

Want to live in a brand new SoMa apartment for as little as $1,300 per month? A local startup can make it happen, as long as you don’t mind squeezing in tight.

HomeShare, a San Francisco-based company founded in 2016, leases homes in expensive new Bay Area buildings (three in the city and one in Emeryville right now, although only one of the SF locations appears to be available right now).

Then it separates the units into mini-homes with privacy curtains and parcels them out to customers, generally Millennials who can’t afford to rent single apartments in San Francisco.

Tenants pay a fraction of the market cost to live in relatively ritzy places, and without having to round up roommates of their own. But as San Francisco Magazine’s story about the somewhat furtive startup reveals, there’s an obvious downside to the deal:

Each of HomeShare’s hundreds of tenants gets about 55 square feet along with half a closet, half a bathroom, and a compact common area shared with a roommate and usually two other flatmates, slumbering in the unit’s other divided bedroom. Each micro-bedroom fits a queen-size bed and little else. Some of the walls don’t quite reach the ceiling.

At the recently completed LSeven building at 1212 Harrison (the only of HomeShare’s San Francisco buildings presently leasing), a partitioned piece of the living room runs $1,300/month. An entire bedroom to yourself is $1,800/month, and a bedroom with private bathroom is $1,900/month.

Prices include an extra service fee—HomeShare’s cut of the action—and the company promises to cover any additional rent owed to the building, in case one of your HomeShare-assigned roomies moves out and the company hasn’t assigned a replacement for example.

The living room of a typical LSeven apartment.
Courtesy L7

For comparison, a 472-foot studio at LSeven normally starts at over $3,200/month. Single-bed apartments in the new complex rent starting at $3,800/month, and two bedrooms can cost as much as $7,000/month.

While SoMa renters can find shared apartments for less on Craigslist, HomeShare’s ostensible selling point is that it gives access to new construction and luxury buildings to those normally unable to afford it, “[democratizing] cities by providing attractive yet and affordable housing options,” as the company’s AngelList puts it.

It also, of course, grants high-end buildings access to tenants normally out of their price range. Provided those tenants don’t expect much in the way of elbow room. It’s also one way of trying to ease/make a buck off San Francisco’s housing crisis. Or as Kim-Mai Cutler‏ puts it:

No one at HomeShare was available for a comment. San Francisco Magazine writer Dan Raile spent several months attempting to contact them, to no avail.

[Update: HomeShare CEO Jeff Pang responded to Curbed SF’s request for comment. Pang says that these days HomeShare spaces are between 100-120 square feet rather than 55, that the company leases apartments with at least 1,000 square feet before division, and that they use partitions instead of curtains.

Previously HomeShare leased apartments to roommates in groups of four but now puts together households of three tenants, “more than a third of them local.” Pang also adds that the company favors buildings near public transit and that offer amenities normally unavailable to such renters.]

A company with an identical name and vaguely similar mission statement operates in Southern California, but appears to be unrelated.